European Skytime has launched a piston-twin, block charter scheme in a bid to stimulate interest in its Flight Commitment business jet time brokerage programme. The scheme, called First Step, is believed to be the first of its kind in Europe to operate piston twins.

The Piper Seneca and Chieftain-based scheme will be aimed at businesses in the south of the UK which need to fly within the UK and to short-haul destinations in Western Europe. The aircraft offer a range of around 1,500km (800nm).

Steve Westlake, managing director of European Skytime, says: "With First Step we aim to get people into business aviation at the lowest entry level." Customers pay a monthly management fee based on the number of occupied hours they estimate flying in a year and their proximity to a qualifying airport. The occupied hourly rate starts at £750 ($1,145).

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire-based European Skytime charges for positioning in areas of the country where there are no piston twins available for charter within easy reach.

Westlake says the cost of three people flying on a First Step aircraft competes favourably with the price of a business class airline ticket, but also offers the flexibility of using local airfields with the comfort of a private cabin.

By offering an affordable introduction to block charter, Westlake anticipates First Step customers will step up to the larger business jets operated by sister programme Flight Commitment, which resells blocks of 25 hours from NetJets' fractional fleet.

He says response to the scheme has been positive and expects to have signed about 10 customers by year-end.

Source: Flight International